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The 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship was the motor racing championship for Formula One cars which was the 71st running of the Formula One World Championship.[a] It marked the 70th anniversary of the first Formula One World Drivers' Championship. The championship was recognised by the governing body of international motorsport, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), as the highest class of competition for open-wheel racing cars. Drivers and teams competed for the titles of World Drivers' Champion and World Constructors' Champion, respectively.
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Twenty-two Grands Prix were originally scheduled for the 2020 World Championship. However, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in numerous race cancellations and postponements. A rescheduled calendar consisted of seventeen Grands Prix, nine from the original 2020 calendar and eight other Grands Prix, while the other thirteen original 2020 races were cancelled. This also meant that the season started with two races in Austria, and later on in the season there were also two races at Silverstone Circuit along with two races at Bahrain International Circuit. Each race is the minimum number of laps that exceeds a total distance of 305 km (189.5 mi). Under the sporting regulations, a minimum of eight races must take place for the season to be considered a championship.[f]
Liberty Media initially expected that the 2020 calendar would consist of twenty-one Grands Prix and that any new races would come at the expense of existing events, but later negotiated an agreement with the teams to allow up to twenty-two Grands Prix. Several further changes were made between the 2019 and 2020 calendars, with the German Grand Prix discontinued and the Mexican Grand Prix planned to be rebranded as the Mexico City Grand Prix before it was cancelled.
In early April, organisers of the Canadian Grand Prix announced the race's postponement. Later in the month, the French Grand Prix organisers confirmed that the race would not be held in 2020, and the managing director of Silverstone Circuit stated that should the British Grand Prix go ahead, it would be without spectators. In May, organisers of the Hungarian Grand Prix announced that their race would use the same model. The sport's plans to resume competition called for a ban on team motorhomes and a rigid testing regime to stop any outbreak of the virus.
The Dutch Grand Prix was cancelled entirely in late May, with organisers of the event stating that they would prefer to host the revived race with spectators in attendance in 2021 rather than without spectators in 2020. Formula One confirmed the cancellation of the Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japanese Grands Prix in June. Organisers of the Azerbaijan and Singapore races cited the difficulty of assembling the infrastructure required for a street circuit as the reason for their cancellation, while the Japanese Grand Prix was cancelled because of the Japanese government's travel restrictions. In July the Brazilian, Canadian, Mexico City and United States Grands Prix were formally cancelled amidst rising virus cases and travel restrictions in the Americas. However, organisers of the Brazilian Grand Prix disputed the claims of Formula One Management and were unhappy with their race being cancelled without further consultation. In August the cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix was announced, followed, in October, by the cancellation of the inaugural Vietnamese Grand Prix.
In March, teams agreed that the 2020 Championship could run into early 2021 to ensure the running of as many races as possible. Such a move would also ensure that eight Grands Prix could be held, over three different continents, thereby meeting the minimum number of races needed for the season to qualify as a World Championship.
Ahead of the season opening Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull launched a protest against the Mercedes F1 W11's dual axis steering, a system where the driver can adjust the toe of the car by pulling and pushing on the steering wheel. The system was found to be legal for 2020, but it would be banned by the FIA from 2021 onward.
Points were awarded to the top ten classified drivers and the driver who set the fastest lap. The driver with the fastest lap had to be within the top 10 to receive the point. In the case of a tie on points a countback system was used where